Constipation is the name given to the condition in which a person finds difficulty in passing stools. Ideally, a person must void the wastes of the digestive tract one or two times a day. But in people suffering from constipation, this elimination of wastes becomes highly reduced, or may even be absent for several days together.
Constipation can be the reduction of the normal volume of feces voided, the complete absence of discharge or sticky discharge that the person has difficulty in passing out. In all cases, there is Ayurvedic treatment. Constipation is not a very dangerous ailment if treated properly in time. But if let be, then constipation can become chronic. Especially in elderly people, constipation for a prolonged period can be fatal.
From an Ayurvedic point of view, constipation is a disease caused particularly by the vitiation of the vata dosha. It is called as Anaha in Ayurveda. But the other two doshas can also be responsible for constipation. Constipation caused due to a high pitta dosha is characterized by dry stools. It is felt mostly in the hot months. Constipation caused due to a high kapha dosha is accompanied by pains in passing out the feces, which are sticky. In people with kapha vitiation, the excessive mucus may block the rectal passage which will obstruct the elimination of the wastes.
(1) Useful Herbs in the Treatment of Constipation
- Bael fruit (Aegle marmelos)
The fruit of the bael is an effective laxative. The ripe fruit is better at this than the raw one. It has to be used for two to three months. It can be taken in the form of a sherbet. This will dissolve the wastes of the intestines and flush them out of the body.
- Belleric Myroblan (Terminalia belerica)
The half ripe fruit of the belleric myroblan is a purgative. It is used in treatment of chronic constipation. However the fully ripe fruit may be disadvantageous to the treatment.
- Cassia (Cassia fistula)
The pulp of the ripe fruit of the cassia tree is an effective laxative in the treatment of constipation. This remedy is popular because it has no side effects even when taken by children and pregnant women.
- Castor (Ricinus communis)
Castor oil is effective as a purgative. This treatment also has no side effects. It can be taken safely, irrespective of the physiology of the patient and the climatic conditions.
- Chebulic Myroblan (Terminalia chebula)
Chebulic myroblan is a mild laxative. Its pulp is taken with rock salt, or flavored with cloves and cinnamon. Regular use of this decoction relieves the person of constipation.
- Chicory (Chichorium intybus)
Chicory has natural laxative powers. It can be used in the treatment of chronic constipation problems.
- Isphagula (Plantago ovata)
This is the traditionally used remedy in the treatment of constipation. The seeds of this plant have a soothing effect on the mucus lining of the alimentary canal. The seeds must be soaked in water and then taken. Isphagula seeds act by binding the wastes in the alimentary canal and bringing them to a consistency in which they can be eliminated from the body.
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Licorice is a laxative. In order to get better benefits, licorice powder is taken with water and jaggery.
- Rhubarb (Rheum emodi)
Rhubarb is also commonly used in allopathic medicine for its purgative properties. Rhubarb contains several tannins that are beneficial in voiding the wastes from the alimentary canal. But rhubarb can be used only in simple cases of constipation, and it has no effect in chronic constipation.
(2) Dietary Treatments for Constipation
There are many dietary guidelines for people suffering from constipation. The following are some of them:-
- Water is very important to keep the intestines working well. Drink a glass of water early in the morning. For better results, keep the water overnight in a copper vessel and drink it when you wake up in the morning.
- The food that you consume should not be too dry. It should be vata pacifying. Hence it must contain adequate amounts of oil or ghee in it.
- Take a glassful of warm milk with a teaspoonful of ghee in it when going to bed.
- Avoid rice. Take wheat instead.
- Fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables must be an integral part of the diet. Papaya and sugarcane are especially beneficial. Tomato and beetroot salads are also very beneficial.
- Avoid beans, legumes, grams, cabbages, mushrooms and such foods which are difficult to digest.
(3) Ayurvedic Treatment for Constipation
- The Triphala Choorna is commonly prescribed. It contains a mixture of the three important fruits of amalaki, belleric myroblan and chebulic myroblan.
- Medicines such as Agastya Rasayana, Pancha Sakara Choorna, Abhayadi Modaka, Madhu Yashthayadi Choorna, can strengthen the intestinal valves and hence improve their functions. These treatments are even prescribed in cases of chronic constipation.
- There are some special therapies Ayurveda uses in order to treat the condition of constipation. These therapies are:-
a) Vashthi Karma (enema therapy)
b) Virechana Karma (purgation therapy)
- In addition, a massage of the abdominal muscles, known as the Udavartana, is also employed if the constipation is chronic. This makes the intestinal muscles stronger and work better in dispelling the wastes.
(4) Home Medications
- Every morning when you wake up, eat two apples. Bite them with the teeth instead of using a knife to cut them into slices.
- Drink a glass of water with a teaspoonful of honey in it at night before going to bed.- The best and simplest medicine is to drink a glass of lemon juice in water with a pinch of salt in it. This will treat any kind of constipation that may be present.